One of my favourites books I read last year finally has arrived on the big screen so I was very excited to go see it last night.
** Note this will be a little “spoilery” – the book was released in 2011 though! It would also take a seriously sadistic author to give this one sad ending so it’s not hard to figure out the basic plot of the story**
So the short version
It’s a really great film!
There is some really great visuals and they’ve done a great job of making all the tech believable. The book is frequently described as a cross between Apollo 13 and Castaway and it’s pretty accurate.
It’s a really good cast and it’s all pretty solid acting wise.
If you’ve never read the book it’s an enjoyable film that while it’s not going to be in the must-see classic bracket it’s still a good watch.
If you have read the book…
It’s a decent adaptation.
One of the worries when you love a book is how it well translates to the big screen. There is stuff that has to be cut out for a variety of reasons but it can be very frustrating when it doesn’t get anywhere near what you were expecting (I’m looking at you World War Z!)
It follows the basic structure of the story about 95% of the way and there is actually quite a lot of dialog that is lifted straight from the book.
If I’m being super critical though here are my gripes
Some of the characters didn’t get enough attention
Mindy Park was a totally marginal character which is a shame, the crew on the Hermes weren’t fleshed out anywhere near enough.
The rest of the other earth based cast, were great. Specifically Teddy Sanders, Mitch Henderson and Vincent Kapoor were brilliantly played by Jeff Daniels, Sean Bean and Chiwetel Ejiofor.
This is me being a little selfish though. I loved so many of the characters in the book I wanted them all to get their time on screen. In reality though it worked well enough in the context of a movie. The story wasn’t held back by the reduced roles.
Cuts Cuts Cuts,
There were some pretty big parts cut.
The sandstorm while on the way to Hermes IV, rolling the rover on the final approach to the MAV, rolling the airlock and burning out PathFinder with the drill were some of the most notable omissions.
For me it felt like the story flew along. Maybe it was because of the cuts and again I can understand this in the context of movie story telling but it didn’t feel like we got a total sense of the amount of time Mark was actually stranded for.
The rover drill scene is one example of this. In the book this is actually a mammoth task that took many hours as Mark has to drill hundreds of little holes to then chip out. This was condensed into 30 seconds on screen.
Likewise the trips out to Pathfinder and later Aries IV were huge amounts of time all cooped up in the little Rover filled with tedium and lots of thinking time.
Still happy though!
Please don’t misunderstand though, I really did enjoy the film but in the context of a book I’d loved and re-read in the days before the seeing the film always meant there were going to be things I’d be wished were slightly different.
Having Lewis make the final rescue in the end was a little annoying. From a screenwriting perspective I can understand why that change made though
That said I was glad of the final ending. The book basically ends as soon as Mark is rescued so having it all wrapped up with everyone back on Earth and being shown what they did next was a great addition.
That might make it sound like I’m down on the film. I’m honestly not. I’d happily go and see it again.
If you haven’t read the book you’ll enjoy it.
if you have read the book you’ll also enjoy, even though you’ll be left wishing it had been a bit more!
Go see it